New England suffers big blow with player opt outs

July 29, 2020 - 1:09 am

Players across the NFL are returning to team facilities this week as training camp gets set to begin.

Not everyone however is deciding to show up.

To prevent further risk of being infected with the coronavirus, many players across the league are opting out of playing in the 2020 season.

The Buffalo Bills saw that firsthand with the opt out of DT Star Lotulelei, but another team in the AFC East has taken the biggest hit to their starting lineup because of the pandemic.

On Monday, the New England Patriots saw six different players decide they would not be reporting to camp, or to the team at all this season.

The six players includes two key starters on defense in LB Dont'a Hightower and S Patrick Chung.

On offense, Cam Newton lost one of his top offensive lineman as OT Marcus Cannon also opted out of the season. RB Brandon Bolden, FB Danny Vitale, and OL Najee Toran decided against playing as well.

Losing starters, the importance of roster depth, and stars elevating their teams, are going to be consistent themes of the 2020 season across the NFL. But is this too much for the Patriots to take on and still produce a winning season?

Even for Bill Belichick, perhaps the greatest head coach of all time, and the coach that does more with less better than anyone, this is trouble.

Hightower opting out means Belichick lost the best player he had on the front seven. A front seven that already took heavy losses, specifically at LB this offseason with the departures of Kyle Van Noy to Miami, and Jamie Collins to Detroit.

That is 208 tackles and 18.5 sacks to make up for.

Losing a veteran offensive lineman who can help protect a QB coming off multiple, serious injuries is no small loss either.

The Patriots should still have a top secondary in the league, and Newton at QB has always been able to elevate an underwhelming supporting cast in the past. As has Belichick. They should still be the biggest threat to the Bills winning the AFC East in 2020, but these losses are just another element that adds on to the high expectations Buffalo has.

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